An Abbotsford Police officer who was accused of fracturing a man’s finger during an arrest in January of this year will not be charged, according to the provincial Ministry of Justice’s Criminal Justice Branch (CJB).
The CJB made the announcement on Tuesday (Dec. 23), saying there was not enough evidence to conclude that the officer used excessive force or that the complainant’s finger was broken during the arrest.
The incident took place on Jan. 28, 2014 and was then investigated by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which subsequently submitted a report to the CJB for consideration of charges.
Neither the officer nor the complainant are named in the statement issued by the CJB.
The complainant was arrested after police were called about an alleged domestic dispute between him and his girlfriend.
The man stated that he had left the residence and, when he returned, “police came at him with dogs and slammed him hard on the ground,” according to the CJB report.
The man claimed that his left hand was hurt when the officer “swung it around” and handcuffed him.
The complainant was first taken to the police station and then for a medical exam at the hospital, where it was confirmed he had fractured the pinky finger on his left hand, and his hand was placed in a cast.
According to the CJB statement, both the complainant’s sister and girlfriend indicated to police that a week prior to the arrest, the man had punched a hole in a closet door at his sister’s residence.
He complained about his injured hand for the rest of the week, the girlfriend stated.
The officer who was the subject of the investigation said he had grabbed the man’s left arm after he complied with police orders to get on the ground, but did not use excessive force.
Another officer at the scene said the suspect was arrested without incident, and at no time did he see anything that would lead him to believe the complainant was injured.
The man also did not mention anything about his hand while being transported to the Abbotsford Police Department, the CJB report states.
However, the officer in charge of the cell block noticed the man was favouring his left hand and decided he should be taken to hospital to have it examined.
While on the way there and during his exam, the complainant accused police of causing his injury.
In its statement, the CJB said there were several reasons that charges were not laid against the officer, including the complainant’s own admission that he was drunk on the night of his arrest and the possibility that he had sustained the injury when punching the closet a week prior.
“When combined with the medical evidence that the type of injury was consistent with having been caused by a punching action, significant doubt is raised as to whether it was police conduct that actually caused the complainant’s broken finger,” the statement indicates.
Following an investigation in which the chief civilian director of the IIO determines that an officer might have committed an offence, the IIO submits a report to the CJB.
The IIO does not make a recommendation on whether charges should be approved or what charges CJB should consider.